Teardown's new creative mode update is a major leap for its thriving modding scene

One of best sandbox games on PC is getting a creative mode. As shown during today's PC Gaming Show, Tuxedo Labs is preparing to launch in-game creation tools for Teardown that allow players to model maps or objects in-game and save them for later use.

It's no secret that we're big fans of Teardown around here. Its one-of-a-kind destruction engine and open-ended puzzles justify its place on our Top 100 PC games list, but what's really kept Teardown in the conversation the past few years is its thriving mod scene. Teardown's Steam workshop page is over 5,000 mods strong with custom tools, weapons, vehicles, enemies, maps, and even complete campaigns being uploaded regularly.

Creative mode should be a boon for Teardown modelers who've so far had to work with entirely external tools. It's also a neat feature for more casual Teardown enjoyers—with one keypress you can now switch to creating instead of destroying (and then back to destroying, most likely).

I've been playing with creative mode for a few days now and, while sandbox creative modes aren't usually my thing, I had fun modeling a quick mockup of the PC Gamer logo. The tools have a more artistic bend than, for example, Minecraft create mode that makes you place one block at a time, because Teardown lets you literally "paint" with 3D voxels. You can free draw, make straight lines, or drag a massive box into existence. The mode currently supports all the materials/colors found in Teardown, including a special foliage brush that should make for quick bushes or trees. The "shape" tool lets you highlight custom creations and save them as objects that can be spawned in any other map.

I can see modders using creative mode to make quick mockups of maps or simply as a 3D art tool that comes with destruction physics, but it's far from a mature creative suite. You're limited to the few brush options I mentioned, there's no eraser tool (just undo), and all of the scripting and programming required to make levels with actual goals or enemies remains in Teardown's external API. This is, according to Tuxedo Labs, by design. Back in March, Teardown creator Dennis Gustafsson described creative mode to me as more toy than tool.

"Think of it as the 3D version of the spraypaint can," he said. "It's more for fun than actually building something, but it gives you tools to build things in an existing world. It's not really intended for precision."

Experienced Teardown modders have something else to look forward to in update 1.4: a new tool in the modding API that allows users to "create scripts to rearrange and manipulate shapes by dynamically adding and removing voxels at run-time." This sounds pretty cool, because for how pretty Teardown's voxelized maps can be, they stand completely static until you start destroying them. With this API change, modders will be able to make spaces that transform over time, such as making "seeds grow into trees, rain accumulates into puddles, vehicles gather rust."

The introduction of custom object spawning was the last big leap forward for what's possible with Teardown mods. The next may be object deformation. Though Tuxedo Labs didn't set out to develop Teardown as a platform to make other games within, Gustafsson has started to embrace the idea and plans to "take steps in that direction" with future updates.

There's plenty more to see from today's PC Gaming Show, including the world premiere of 20 games and new info on Baldur's Gate 3.

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.